|NJ Transit; Peapack, N.J.
I had reservations to ride the New Year's Eve streetcar charter, an annual event hosted by the Friends of the Philadelphia Trolleys in the City of Brotherly Love. The trip begins at 10:00 p.m., and the new year is brought in while riding the rails. This was the first year I could make the event. Thus, during the afternoon of December 31, 2012, I headed south through New Jersey.
I knew that New Jersey Transit's new dual mode locomotives were being used on the Gladstone Branch in the central part of the state. Being able to operate as a conventional diesel-electric or as an electric-only from overhead wires, the locomotives were purchased to run on lines where electrification catenary didn't reach the end of the route (for instance, trains from New York City run out of wires in Dover, even though the tracks -- and diesel service -- extend beyond to Hackettstown). The Gladstone Branch is electrified for its entire distance from Hoboken to its namesake town, and thus these dual-mode locomotives were not intended for Gladstone service. However, Hurricane Sandy put much of Hoboken under water, and even nearly four months later the damage to electrical substations at Hoboken kept the wires at the terminal de-energized. Thus, the dual modes were pressed into service, feeding off the wire from Gladstone to Broad Street Station in Newark, where the locomotives were switched to diesel to continue into Hoboken.
On this New Year's Eve, cloudy skies were present, so I decided to go for a shot that is never properly lit when the sun is out. There's a through truss bridge over the South Branch of the Raritan River between the towns of Far Hills and Peapack, and westbound trains immediately enter a man-made tunnel under Route 512. I used the top of the portal for a perch to get the train running under wire.
With that shot done, up next was a visit to the New Hope & Ivyland in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Even though it was a week past Christmas, old St. Nick was still riding the rails on the incredibly popular Santa Claus Specials. I met Mike Burkhart at the small community of Hood, located just outside New Hope, and we plotted how we would light the train. While plotting, the homeowner who has the property on the west side of the deck girder bridge at Hood came out to check his mail. We got into a conversation with him, and he graciously let us use his property to get the train from an angle neither one of had gotten before. As darkness moved in, Santa and his train showed up and we were able to light the train and about half the houses at Hood.
|New Hope & Ivyland; Hood, Pa.; December 31, 2012
|SEPTA; 63rd & Malvern, Philadelphia, Pa.; December 31, 2012
For the rest of the night we wandered the streets of Philadelphia, stopping occasionally for photos. One location, popular with charters, was in front of the Gables Bed & Breakfast, which is always well-decorated for the holidays.
|SEPTA; Philadelphia, Pa.; January 1, 2013